Feb 20, 2013 2:03 PM by Tara Oster - KAJ News

FVCC looks to expand heavy equipment training program

KALISPELL - The demand for people trained in operating heavy equipment is booming in areas across Montana, and there's a program at Flathead Valley Community College that's trying to expand to train more students.

FVCC's heavy equipment operators training program is looking to expand because their classes are jam-packed with students.

"And we're turning students away right now from the program because we can't train them," FVCC Director of Career in Technical Education Pete Wade explained.

He says they need more equipment. So, the Kalispell City Council is being asked to provide a $350,000 grant to buy heavy equipment including a bulldozer, loader, and two excavators. It's in the preliminary stages, and organizers asking for a public hearing on March 4th.

"Which would give the community an opportunity to learn more about the details of the grant application and if they have any components of it that they'd like to speak to or comment on, they're welcome to do so," Community Development Manager Katherine Thompson said.

The program boasts about an 80% placement rate, and demand for skilled workers is high locally, as well as in eastern Montana and North Dakota.

The training taking place at the college is directly applied to the real world, according to heavy equipment instructor Chris Moore.

"We also do jobs for the community. So, when we're not here practicing or training them here then we're out on job sites."

"It's such a hands on program. We have the instructors and we have good instructors, but we're kind of underutilizing the instructors because we don't have enough equipment. So if we had more equipment, we could do a really nice job of training more people," Wade said.

The program is currently limited to 20 students.

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